Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan challenged his indictment in the cypher case on Wednesday in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
Represented by his lawyers Salman Safdar and Khalid Yusuf, the PTI chief sought to annul the process of indictment citing concerns about the haste with which it was carried out.
The petition named plaintiff Yusuf Naseem Khokhar and the state as parties. It contended that, as per the law, charges can only be framed seven days after the distribution of the case copy – a requirement seemingly overlooked by the trial court.
Imran also pointed out the absence of a directive from the IHC to expedite the trial or to conduct daily proceedings, and argued that rushing the trial could infringe upon his fundamental constitutional rights.
The ex-prime minister further highlighted that the lack of central evidence, particularly related to the cypher telegraphs had been overlooked.
The PTI chief prayed that the IHC set aside and annul the order rejecting Imran’s plea seeking deferment in the process.
Two days ago, Imran and ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi pleaded ‘not guilty’ as the two PTI leaders were indicted in the cypher case.
During the hearing, prosecutor Shah Khawar termed Imran’s plea seeking deferment in the indictment process a “delaying tactic” and requested the court to reject it, stating that today’s hearing was fixed only for indictment.
Presiding over the hearing, Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain of the special court summoned government officials listed as witnesses in the case for October 27.
“This is a false, fabricated case, designed to exact political revenge. Will prove my innocence,” the PTI chief had reportedly said as he denied the charges.
‘Imran feels safe inside jail’
Separately, earlier in the day, Special Court judge Abul Hasnaat Zulqarnain – presiding over the cypher case – told Imran’s spokesperson for legal affairs Naeem Panjotha that the PTI chief had himself “told me that he considers himself safe in jail”.
Judge Zulqarnain further remarked that the proceedings were being smoothly conducted at the prison with a primary focus on ensuring the PTI chief’s safety.
The judge’s remarks came as Panjotha appeared before his court seeking implementation of his orders from Adial jail officials where the former prime minister is currently incarcerated.
Panjotha raised concerns about certain court orders not being implemented, particularly regarding lawyers being granted access to the PTI chairman in jail.
Judge Zulqarnain stated that there were administrative matters to consider. He noted that certain matters will need to be carefully managed if multiple lawyers have to meet Imran.
To this, Panjotha argued that the superintendent of Adiala jail will only follow your orders. Raising further concerns regarding the case, the spokesperson stated that the case was being conducted so secretively that even journalists were not being allowed to cover the proceedings. “If journalists are not allowed to attend the hearing at least lawyers should be allowed to attend them,” he said.
However, the judge observed that the cypher case was filed under the 1923 Secret Act, and that if it was upto him he would not have an objection to journalists covering the case.
Regarding the complaint about physical space constraints in the Adiala jail courtroom, the judge remarked at Imran’s legal aide that he already had a wall of the ex-premier’s jail cell demolished, asking him if he would rather have the PTI chief’s entire room demolished?
Panjotha pointed out that the caretaker government was making excuses to avoid presenting Imran at the judicial complex
He said that the former premier had not been provided security despite the SSP expressing concerns regarding his life being under threat, comparing that to the security provided to the recently-returned Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif.
In response, the judge highlighted the significance of protecting a former prime minister’s life. Judge Zulqarnain further maintained that he had personally held a one-hour long meeting with Imran where the latter explicitly told him that he feels safe in prison.
The judge stated that the case proceedings were ongoing in a satisfactory manner, inquiring of Panjotha if there were any concerns related to other directions or instructions regarding the PTI chairman.
The legal aide informed the judge that their cases were currently pending in the IHC. To this, the judge clarified that he was referring to meeting-related requests.
Judge Zulqarnain later issued instructions to the jail superintendent to ensure lawyers’ easy access to Imran in future.
Wheat in ample supply, minister confirms
A caretaker federal minister on Monday assured the upper house of parliament that Pakistan currently has ample wheat stocks and that the government will take concrete measures to address any flour shortage due to supply chain problems.
“There is no shortage of wheat in the country,” Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Information Murtaza Solangi said in response to a motion moved in the Senate by Sania Nishtar of the PTI under Rule 218.
The minister said Pakistan has over seven million (7,213,884) metric tons of wheat, with an additional imported stock of 10,33,845 metric tons.
“Public wheat stock comprises 39,24,367 metric tons in Punjab, 8,17,394 metric tons in Sindh, 2,15,082 metric tons in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), and 89,354 metric tons in Balochistan.
“The Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation Ltd (Passco) accounts for 17,18,177 metric tons. Private wheat stock comprises 3,37,270 metric tons in Punjab, 93,165 metric tons in Sindh, 14,918 metric tons in the K-P, and 4,157 metric tons in Balochistan,” he added.
He said the support price for provinces differed, being Rs4,600 in Punjab and Rs4,700 in Sindh.
In her motion, Senator Nishtar had focused on addressing gaps in the wheat supply chain that may lead to flour shortage. She had pointed out the specific lacuna in the wheat policy, citing the conversion of green bags to white bags at the retail level. She also hinted at smuggling as a factor, contributing towards wheat shortages, in addition to the creation of systematic artificial shortages and hoarding.
In discussions on the motion, Senator Dilawar Khan of the PML-N suggested that Pakistan should focus on exporting wheat instead of importing this essential commodity. He further advocated for providing concessions to the agriculture sector to boost farming.
He said wheat procured in the past was not even suitable for animals’ consumption. He said the method of distributing wheat in the country is flawed. “Fertilizer is being sold in black markets too. The government should force dealers to maintain records of landowners,” he added.
Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri of the JUI-F highlighted Balochistan’s agricultural challenges, emphasizing a lack of canal systems. He expressed concern about the removal of subsidies on electricity for poor farmers of the province.
Senators Dr Zarqa Suharwardy Taimur of the PTI and Rukhsana Zuberi of the PPP stressed the need for a concrete solution to address the issue.
Senator Dr Zarqa said dealers are availing subsidies meant for farmers.
“Pakistan’s black economy is thriving more than the white one. There is a need for measures that increase the country’s income instead of benefiting corrupt individuals. Actions should be taken to break the backbone of the black economy,” she said.
The minister acknowledged the collective wisdom of the Senate, which, he said, ultimately provides guidance to the government. He said that discussions on the topic would be tabled before the federal cabinet and the prime minister for consideration.
WITH INPUT FROM APP
SHC’s stay on executive committee orders irks PBC
Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Haroonur Rasheed has taken strong exception over the Sindh High Court to grant stay on its executive committee orders, demanding of the chief justice of Pakistan to look into the matter and take appropriate action in this regard.
In a statement issued on Monday, the PBC vice chairman said, “It is often observed that Orders of Executive Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council which are assailed by the aggrieved person(s) before the Hon’ble High Court of Sindh through civil suit are being taken up by the High Court of Sindh in the Court or in Chamber and injunctive Order has been passed which are not entertainable in the eye of law due to lack of jurisdiction.”
Rasheed said, “The High Court of Sindh has no jurisdiction to set aside any Order assailed which is passed by the Pakistan Bar Council or its Executive Committee at Islamabad the proper forum for that is Courts of ICT, so any order passed by the High Court of Sindh that would be non-existing and nullity in the eye of law as one rather sitting in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab or Balochistan cannot set over the territorial jurisdiction and the High Court of Sindh should not pass injunctive Orders on the matters decided by the Pakistan Bar Council at Islamabad just to please their blue eyed person(s), which amount to undue interference in smooth functioning of a statutory body having its office in Islamabad.”
The statement added, “The tendency of such like issues creates serious doubts upon credibility of those decisions which have been passed without jurisdiction.”
Rasheed said that no high court of any province had jurisdiction, especially the SHC, to create hindrance in affairs of the regulatory body of lawyers who had the mandate under Section 13(2) of the Legal Practitioners & Bar Councils Act, 1973, to decide matters of Provincial/Islamabad Bar Councils and all bar associations of the country, which were challenged before it.
Pakistan, UAE ink MoUs for mega investments
Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) inked several Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs), paving the way for multi-billion dollar investments in diverse initiatives outlined by the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).
The signing ceremony took place in Abu Dhabi, witnessed by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar and UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, subsequent to a bilateral meeting between the two leaders.
The MoUs cover investment cooperation across various sectors, including energy, port operations, waste water treatment, food security, logistics, mining, aviation, and banking and financial services. The agreements aim to foster collaboration and stimulate significant investments in these key areas, a handout released by the Media Wing of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Information Ministry.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar today held a bilateral meeting with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi. Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir, NI (M) was also present at the occasion.
— Prime Minister’s Office (@PakPMO) November 27, 2023
On the occasion, Kakar termed the signing of the MoUs a historic event that “will take economic cooperation between both brotherly countries to new heights and open doors of economic prosperity and socio-economic development of Pakistan”.
Kakar also highlighted the success of the SIFC in creating a business and investment-friendly environment through one-window operation and fast-tracking the initiatives. He expressed the hope that the MoUs would turn into tangible projects very soon.
Separately, Kakar, who is on a two-day visit to the UAE, said in a video message that with the signing of the MoUs, the bilateral economic and strategic relations had entered into a new era of bilateral cooperation. On that he congratulated the people of Pakistan and the UAE.
“Foundation of friendship with Pakistan that was laid by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in the 1970s, has been taken forward by his son Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to a new era,” the prime minister said in his message.
Earlier, Prime Minister Kakar held a bilateral meeting with Sheikh Mohamed. Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir was also present during the meeting. In their talks, the two leaders reaffirmed their resolve to strengthen the bilateral strategic cooperation and dialogue.
Prime Minister Kakar expressed profound gratitude for the UAE’s firm support for Pakistan in economic and financial domain. The UAE is home to 1.8 million Pakistanis, contributing to the progress, prosperity and economic development of the two brotherly countries, he noted.
Read more: Kakar arrives in Abu Dhabi on two-day visit
During the meeting, regional and global developments in the region were also discussed with particular reference to the escalating hostilities in the occupied Palestine. The prime minister expressed concern over the human cost of the dire situation in Gaza.
Kakar reiterated Pakistan’s full support to the UAE’s Presidency of the COP-28 and underlined the importance of the global gathering on climate change as an opportunity for meaningful progress towards effective and result oriented global actions on key areas, including the Loss and Damage fund.
Later in the day, Prime Minister Kakar embarked upon a two-day bilateral visit to Kuwait. During the November 28-29, 2023 visit, the prime minster will meet Kuwaiti Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Jaber Al Sabah, Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nawaf Al Ahmed AL Sabah.
The Foreign Office spokesperson said in a press release that the visit would include the signing of various MoUs in the fields of manpower, information technology, mineral exploration and food security, energy and defence.
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